We know they're gearing up for it. We know they keep threatening it. And we know they keep almost carrying it out. It seems like a slyer, more subtle and sophisticated version of Kim Jong Un's martial atomic boasting, only the question isn't "Can they actually do it?", but for what they are waiting:
The East-West standoff over the Ukraine crisis has brought the threat of nuclear war in Europe closer than at any time since the 1980s, a former Russian foreign minister warned on Saturday.
i.e. It's the West's fault, even though we haven't done anything except pump the air full of disapproving words and shift around some cannon fodder on Russia's western frontier.
"The risk of confrontation with the use of nuclear weapons in Europe is higher than in the 1980s," said Igor Ivanov, Russia's foreign minister from 1998 to 2004 and now head of a Moscow-based think-tank founded by the Russian government. [emphasis added]
So although Ivanov is no longer Putin's SecState, he's still part of the Russian government and therefore speaks for them - just a lot more quietly. And what he's murmuring here, in light of the established fact that Barack Obama will not go to war with anybody for any reason, other than to shoot down Israeli jets if they attack Iran's nuclear weapons facilities, is that Russia has never been in a stronger position to launch a successful nuclear attack on NATO.
While Russia and the United States have cut their nuclear arsenals, the pace is slowing.
Which is to say, Russia is building its nuclear forces, the United States is divesting itself of its own, and at an accelerating pace.
As of January 2015, they had just over 7,000 nuclear warheads each, about 90% of world stocks, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
i.e. Russia has just over seven thousand nuclear warheads, while we have an array of delightful, rainbow-hued paperweights.
"We have [fewer] nuclear warheads, but the risk of them being used is growing," Ivanov said at a Brussels event with the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Poland and a U.S. lawmaker.
i.e. "We are about to use our nuclear warheads against you".
NATO's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has warned Russia of intimidating its neighbors with talk about nuclear weapons, publicly voicing concerns among Western officials.
With no military force with which to back up that warning.
Taking Ivanov's words at face value after reading between their lines, I'd say a Russian invasion of the Baltic States can be put on the 2016 doomsday calendar.